Agroforestry with ruminants in UK

Description of system

Two research groups in the UK are focusing on agroforestry with livestock in the AGFORWARD project.

The Agrifood and Biosciences Institute in Northern Ireland has been developing improved agroforestry practices based on field experimentation since 1989. In December 2014, it held a stakeholder workshop at Loughgall Research Station focused on orchard grazing. However the researchers at the site are also contributing to work-package 5 through the synthesis of recent and ongoing research.

In 2011, the Organic Research Centre in Berkshire, England established a field experiment integrating rows of short rotation coppice (willow and alder) within grassland grazed by cattle. This experimental site is being used to analyse cattle/grassland/tree interactions and the fodder value of the coppice.

Research and development protocol

The Northern Ireland research and development protocol was agreed on 20 April 2015.If you would like to know about the activity of this group, please contact Prof. Jim McAdam

The Organic Research Centre research and development protocol was agreed on 24 July 2015. If you would like to know about the activity of this group, please contact Dr Jo Smith

System description

A system description report providing an update on the silvopastoral work at the Organic Research Centre was produced in October 2015.

Lesson learnt report

In October 2017, Jo Smith and colleagues at the Organic Research Centre described the lessons learnt from their research on the effects of integrating willow and alder short rotation coppice on grassland on an organic farm in Southern England. The yields of woodchip from the willow, in January 2017 (after being coppiced in February 2016) were low, but there were good yields from the alder. The alder also had levels of digestible organic matter that compared favourably with typical livestock forages. In October 2016, the grass alleys between the alder and willow tree rows were ploughed and a break crop of organic oats was planted. There was little observed impact of the trees on the oats. Weed cover was higher in the tree row, with more perennial weeds in particular, compared to the crop alley. Earthworm abundances were also higher in the tree rows which form an undisturbed stable habitat. By contrast ground beetles occurred in greater abundances in the crop alleys.

Download the lessons learnt report

WP5_UK_Ruminants_lessons_learnt.pdf (2.2 MiB)